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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

The Flower Kings - Unfold the future - 2002


"The truth will set you free
We will stand up to the lie
With this heart bigger than America
We will fight fire with fire
No more kiss will seal the lies"

(Excerpt of lyrics "The truth will set you free" – Roine Stolt)

In the long list of The Flower Kings related material that has been released the last months (see my Tomas Bodin review for details) this one is of the of course the most important one. Not for the first time the band had so much material that they needed two CD's to release everything. And both CD's are really packed with progressive music, which have a great diversity in musical styles. The first CD counts 74 minutes and the second one 77 minutes! (at least the limited edition with the bonus track "Too late for tomatos") Because of the great diversity in musical style's this is in my opinion the best and most adventurous album the Swedes made so far.

Musicians:
Zoltan Csörsz – Drumkit; Jonas Reingold – Basses; Tomas Bodin – Grand Piano & Electric Keyboards; Hasse Fröberg – Vocals; Daniel Gildenlöw – Vocals; Roine Stolt – Guitars, Vocals & Keyboards; Hasse Bruniusson – Orchestral Percussion; Ulf Wallander – Soprano and Tenor Sax; Anders Bergcrantz – Trumpet.

The first CD opens with the longest track of the double-album "The truth will set you free" (30:40). This little Stolt symphony has all the ingredients the fans could ask for. A typical TFK composition with Mellotron, Church organ, melodic guitar solo's, multi vocal refrains. Fairytale like music next to symphonic and bombastic parts. Zoltan Csörsz and Jonas Reingold are playing as a good running Jazz-Fusion rhythm section. The Flower Kings are swinging like hell on this album. It is a pleasure to listen to this track. The band played this song as the opener of their recent concerts in Europe. After hearing this mega composition the fans could only agree that The Flower Kings are "Top" at this moment.

"Monkey business" (4:20) is also a swinging rock piece with nice guitar work. "Black and white" (7:40), a Bodin-Stolt composition starts slowly as a ballad but develops into an up tempo piece with a jazzy bass and Zappa percussion but it has also some symphonic moments. "Christianopel" (8:30) (Csörsz-Reingold-Bodin-Stolt) is an instrumental piece probably based on improvisation. The first part, which has a lot of percussion, sounds like a King Crimson composition. In the second part you hear jazzy guitar work with some Mahavishnu Orchestra influences. The next Stolt composition "Silent inferno" (14:25) is one of the highlights of the album with beautiful melodies, breathtaking guitar solo's and bombastic keyboard parts. The variation in the piece makes it so great. At one point this symphonic piece is again swinging with Latin percussion. In the slow ballad "The navigator" (3:15) we hear next to Mellotron sounds the trumpet of Anders Bergcrantz. The last track of the first CD is called "Vox Humana" (4:30). This slow piece has for me a typical "Jon Anderson" fairytale atmosphere. You are floating away on a big pink cloud.

The second CD opens with "Genie in a bottle" (8:10) a typical Stolt composition with a lot of variation and a slow part that slowly builds up in tension to a climax on guitar. In the second part we hear again some freaky jazz orientated parts. "Fast lane" (6:35) is a Tomas Bodin composition. An up-tempo piece with jazz and soul influences. The vocals are sung by Daniel Gildenlöw, the big man behind Swedish band Pain of Salvation. "Grand old world" (5:10) (Stolt) has a jazzy atmosphere because of the vibraphone and the sax of Ulf Wallander. But the atmosphere of Bodin's keyboards is more minimalistic like in a soundtrack of a movie. The track seamlessly integrates into "Soul vortex" (6:00) (Csörsz-Reingold-Bodin-Stolt). You could describe this composition as a slow jazz-fusion piece. Some people will have problems with this track and the earlier mentioned "Christianopel" but TFK are making music they like themselves and this kind of experimentation can only lead to more variation and diversity on their next albums. "Rollin' the dice" (4:15) is also a strange song for TFK. Daniel Gildenlöw is helping with the vocals and because he sings the beautiful melodic vocal line in the same way as with his band Pain of Salvation, it sounds like a TFK/POS mix.

"The devil's danceschool" (3:45) (Csörsz-Reingold) is a freaky jazz-rock piece ala Weather Report and includes a great trumpet solo of Anders Bergcrantz. The bass and drum work of Csörsz-Reingold is just amazing. One of the freakiest pieces of the album. The bass work sounds like Jaco Pastorius or Percy Jones (BrandX). And Bodin plays like Joe Zawinul (Weather Report). Next is "Man overboard" (3:40) and this one starts with a pipe organ and is a delicate track with beautiful melodies. "Solitary shell" (3:10) is a short Bodin piano based piece and connects very well with the Stolt's previous piece. The last long track is called "Devil's playground" (24:30) which has a great classical opening with keyboard strings before it burst out into a hugh bombastic TFK composition. This Stolt-Bodin piece is the epic of the second CD. The middle section includes a freaky jazz piece with the sax of Ulf Wallander. Beautiful melodies on guitar and a "larger than life" sound on keyboards. In the last section the bands swings again accompanied by Hammond solo's of Bodin and a delicious guitar solo of Stolt. Also an Earthwork's like freaky sax solo of Ulf Wallander is included before the last vocals introduce the typical TFK ending with a screaming guitar solo of Roine Stolt.

On the limited edition an extra track is included; "Too late for tomatos" (7:02) which is based on Jazz Rock but also includes a fantastic emotional guitar solo. Zoltan Csörsz and Jonas Reingold are giving all they have and after the indicated 7 minutes the band go on with improvisation on top of the amazing drums of Zoltan Csörsz.

In my introduction I already mentioned that this "Unfold the future" is the most adventurous album of The Flower Kings so far. Not everybody will like the freaky jazz stuff. But with three long epics on the album nobody can complain. On their previous album "The rainmaker" all compositions were from the hand of Roine Stolt, but on this one Bodin has more input. But also Csörsz and Reingold delivered compositions. This resulted in an album with a great diversity in musical styles. Together with the music based on improvisation this let us hear a band that is going for it. And is not committed to stay inside the boundaries of their own TFK sound. The band is developing and sounding progressive again. The Flower Kings are in great shape at the moment and this has resulted in a great output of TFK and TFK related material. The year 2002 was a great year for the fans of the Kings!

Douwe Fledderus - December 2002.
rating - Inside Out

 

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